Religiousness and Social Support: A Study in Secular Norway

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Review of Religious Research





Previous research has shown that religiousness is related to social support, but most studies on this subject have been conducted in highly religious contexts. In the secular culture of Norway, we investigated the level of perceived social support among religious and non-religious individuals using the scale from the Medical Outcomes Study Social Support Survey. Of the 3,000 randomly selected persons aged 18–75 years, 653 (22 %) participated in this cross-sectional postal questionnaire study in 2009. The results showed that the association between religiousness and social support differed by age, and was moderated by gender and by one’s view of life enrichment. Among older adults (60–75 years), non-religious people reported higher levels on all five dimensions of social support compared to religious people, and for affectionate support, positive social interaction and tangible support this relationship depended on high view of life enrichment. In contrast, no differences in social support were seen among middle aged adults (40–59 years). Gender differences in social support were found in the younger adults (18–39 years), as religious men reported more tangible and emotional support compared to non-religious men, while the opposite was found for women. Results are discussed based on previous empirical findings on religiousness and social support, as well as the role of religiousness in society.


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